I’m trying to write a conference paper manuscript for the AIAA GNC conference right now (why, oh, why isn’t it just an abstract, or even an extended abstract? a full manuscript at this point is going to be slathered with “TBD” and “preliminary” and “temporary” and promises for the future!), but I just discovered something that I had to write down for the benefit of other academic users of Microsoft Office since this has been bugging me since I got Office 2007:
I, personally, rebel against using TeX or its derivatives in my academic work. Yes, I can program in Matlab and Mathematica, and yes, I can create some pretty snazzy HTML/CSS web pages, so I’m not foreign to coding and markup languages, but really, I’m trying to concentrate on the science and engineering when I write a paper. I want to see what I will get. There is no reason at this point in the history of computers for me to have to use a command-line word processor that I have to compile. That sort of thing is for numerical scripts, not for documents.
Word 2007 took some great strides in the direction of making Office easier and better for technical purposes, with a WYSIWYG equation editor that you can control almost entirely from the keyboard using common operators and that automatically prettifies the equations as you write them. It’s way cool.
Word 2007 also has, from the beginning, included some automatic citation generating and outputting features. It’s almost like EndNote or BibTex and such, except that I don’t have to pay extra for them. However, it’s HUGE shortcoming was that it contained only 10 citation formats, and didn’t include some common technical formats. Right around the release of Office 2007, Microsoft blogs touting Word went on and on about how easy it would be for users to generate their own formats, since they used open XML files to create them. However, it turns out that those XML files are totally opaque to my understanding, and when I did try to change some things, I didn’t get what I expected. And it seemed like the rest of everybody agreed with me, because downloads for new citation formats did not immediately appear on the Internet.
I have finally, finally, finally found a web site with a small library of citation format files. It is here.
They unfortunately don’t have the AIAA format, which is what I use most often, but maybe they have something close. And, anyway, it adds to my options for the future. 🙂